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review 2016-07-23 06:55
The Infernal Device
The Infernal Device (A Professor Moriarty Novel) - Michael Kurland

I am a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes, so anything Holmes-related is going to attract my attention, and when I happened across the chance to get the entire Professor Moriarty series for a song, I grabbed them up, and this, the first in the series, didn't disappoint.

 

Of course it's odd reading a novel that makes Moriarty a hero of sorts, but for a good read, I'm willing to overlook the fact that this is the man who tried to kill Sherlock Holmes (knowing the outcome of that fateful meeting at Reichenbach Falls makes it easier for me to overcome my natural aversion to Moriarty). In The Infernal Device he comes across as intelligent and calculating, of course, but also as a gentleman with a certain kind of honor. I won't say I like him, but I find him slightly less than utterly despicable, and it's very interesting to see him and Holmes having to work together for a change.

 

The plot revolves around international intrigue, an unfortunate murder, and a dastardly plot to kill a prominent member of the British royal family. Of course there are close calls, plans gone awry, and a spectacularly suspenseful climax at the end.

 

I recommend this to Holmes fans and to readers looking for action, intrigue, and suspense. Long live Sherlock Holmes!

 

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review 2016-02-23 09:07
The Girls in the High-Heeled Shoes
The Girls in the High Heeled Shoes - Michael Kurland

 


The Girls in the High-Heeled Shoes is the second stand alone novel to feature Brass, Morgan and Gloria. I hadn't read the first book or any of the series featuring Professor Moriarty but I plan to do so very soon.
Morgan is a trusted employee of Brass alongside Gloria and Garrett. He is a struggling novelist who relies on his tact and wit to stay in employment. He isn't a New Yorker and doesn't understand the Broadway slang. So he is initially very confused when the team are asked to look into the disappearance of 'Two Headed Mary' and whether it is linked to the disappearance of Billie Trask and the murder of Lydia Laurant. Luckily Brass understood, and offered to help. They found that people were more willing to talk to them rather than the police.
I loved the humour throughout the novel, there are some cracking one liners, mainly from Morgan when he is describing the people of New York. The names of the characters as well, 'Pearly' Gates is just one of many. It's also very descriptive, I could imagine New York in the 1930s, recovering from the depression and prohibition. The theatre district and the bars/diners all feature strongly along with the people connected to both.
I loved this book, the author combines crime and humour very well.

I am very grateful to Titan Books for sending me this book to review, and to the introduction to an author I had never read before.

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review 2013-03-26 00:00
The Infernal Device
The Infernal Device - Michael Kurland The Infernal Device or, How To Turn Moriarty Into Holmes.
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review 2013-01-20 00:00
The Unicorn Girl - Michael Kurland Trippy hippy fantasy.
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review 2012-03-11 00:00
Ten Little Wizards: A Lord Darcy Novel -... Ten Little Wizards: A Lord Darcy Novel - Michael Kurland My first reaction on reading the blurb of this book was 'OMG a detective-story set in an alternate reality where magic exists! why haven't I heard of this sooner?' Once I started reading it was more a 'Yeah I wish I had discovered these earlier but mainly because a few years ago I wasn't overthinking (the logic behind) fantasy-novels that much and was overall less cynic about humanity.'It's really sad but I simply have massive trouble buying the world the Lord Darcy-stories are set in. So the main point of it (apart from the existing magic) is that Richar Lionheart stayed longer on the throne, wasn't succeded by his evil brother John but by his nephew Arthur who was so good and noble and so everything a man can wish for in a king that people started confusing him with the mythological King Arthur. So far so good.Now when I started reading Ten Litle Wizards my first impression was that the book would have to be set during/some time after Arthur's reign, so I was really surprised when I learned that it's set in the 1980s. It simply doesn't feel like that. It feels like your typical pseudo-mediaeval fantasy-setting. The technology is far from what we had in the 80s. There are trains, but they seem to be rather unreliable, there is something similar to telegraphy but it doesn't work over water and generally seems to fail frequently so that ye olde medieval horse-messengers are preferred. Now the explanation for the lack of any advanced technology is that it's a world where "the science of magic has replaced the magic of science." Yeah...when in doubt just say 'It is like this because MAGIC'. Don't get me wrong, I'd accept if magic would slow down science a bit...why spend ages trying to figure out how to make humans fly if wizards can use a spell? But that's the point: Wizards can use a spell. Magic is a rare talent. The majority of humanity won't be able to do that (or be able to perform forensic investigations, or keep their food from going off without buying an expensive spell for a storage-box)...but still nobody seems to have any ambition to make humanity less dependent on magic...this is me being not really convinced.The other thing that gave me the whole middle-age-feeling was politics. We're in the 20th century and still have a feudal system and (as I got it) an absolute monarch. Of course that is not bad, cause you know, the monarch is nice or a Plantagenet, which seems to be a synonym. Because the whole Planatgenet line of succession is full of great monarchs, who knew what was the right think to do, who didn't went insane, who treated their subjects with great respect and probaly they could all read at night cause the sun was shining out of their arse. I am sorry...blame George Martin but I don't buy about 800 years peaceful reign of one family...it doesn't even seem that for good measure they had at least a few who were just average rulers...no the author shoves it into our face that every single one was great. This is me being even less convinced.The church plays only a minor role (at least in this novel) but for the popes it seems to be the same...no Borgias, no orgies in the Vatican, no abuse of power and therefore of course also nobody like Martin Luther...just like all these nice monarchs stopped somebody like Oliver Cromwell ever gaining any influence. That's just very much taking the easy solution.I now I might be at least partially unfair because I guess you can counter lots of my critizism with 'Duh, well that's 70s/80s fantasy, and that was just very different from Martin, Barclay and whoever else is writing today.' Which is right...and usually when I read older fantasy I can make admissions for everything being a bit more brightly-coloured and fluffy back then, or rather I simply do it I don't need to force it and constantly tell myself that 30 years ago things were differently. I'm just too engrossed in the story to care.Which brings me to that. The detective-story is well a bit meh. The murderer was easy to figure out (in the 'I have read enough mysteries, I know what to look for, you can't fool me'-way), there were too many characters, Lord Darcy didn't make much of an impression on me and a reduced number of plot-threads defenitely wouldn't have hurt. I did like all the shout-outs to other famous detectives but even those seemed occasionally a bit to forced in that look-at-me-I'm-oh-so-clever way.Despite all that I am a bit tempted to give one of the originaly Lord Darcy short-stories a try, after all Ten Little Wizards is novel-length (well...180 pages) and not written by the original author, so it is possible that the originaly mysteries are engrossing enough for me to gloss over my issues with the world-building...but getting my hands on one isn't exactly high on my priorities-list.
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